By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, BamaCarry Inc. released the first public polling of the 2018 election cycle for Alabama’s 5th Congressional District. The poll purports to take a snapshot of where the race currently stands and examine how the negative attacks of the Senate campaign may affect both the 2017 Senate runoff and the 2018 congressional primary.
The poll was conducted by WT&S Consulting in partnership with (the Second Amendment rights group) BamaCarry Inc. The poll surveyed 863 self-identified Republican respondents from a random stratified selection of likely primary voters across the 5th Congressional District. The survey was conducted by phone between Aug. 28 and Aug. 31., and it has a margin of error of 3.34 percent.
Likely Republican primary voters in the 5th District were asked their preferred candidate in the June 2018 Primary election for U.S. House of Representatives, as well as, their preferred candidate in this month’s Republican runoff for U.S. Senate. The respondents were also asked if they had a favorable, average or unfavorable opinion of U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville; Sen. Luther Strange; and Senate candidate Roy Moore.
When asked who they preferred in the Congressional District 5 race, incumbent Brooks has a commanding lead with 56.2 percent support.
State Senator Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison, comes in second with 21.6 percent, followed by Clayton Hinchman at 5.3 percent. Only 16.9 percent of voters say they are undecided at this point.
In the Aug. 15 U.S. Senate race party primary, Brooks finished third, and is thus out of the runoff; but his home district was where he did strongest, winning both Madison and Limestone Counties.
Former Alabama Chief Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has done the best job at this point of winning over those battleground voters and now has a commanding lead in the 5th District. 53 percent report that they prefer Moore, while only 38.2 percent support appointed Strange for Senate. Only 8.8 percent are still undecided.
The poll also did some favorability measures. When asked about Brooks, 43.8 percent said they had a favorable view of the congressman. 34.4 answered average, while 20 percent answered unfavorable. Just 1.8 percent answered that they had never heard of Brooks.
When asked about Strange, only 28 percent answered favorable. 33.4 percent answered average, and 35.68 percent answered unfavorable. Three percent said that they have never heard of Strange.
When respondents were asked about Moore, 44.7 percent answered favorable. 30.3 answered average, and just 23.5 percent viewed Moore as unfavorable. 1.5 percent answered that they have never heard of Moore.
Commenting on the findings of the poll, WT&S Consulting’s Communications Director John Wahl said: “Looking at the favorable ratings I would say Luther Strange’s attacks on Mo Brooks did not work as well in his home congressional district as they did in the rest of the state.”
Wahl said that, “A 20 percent unfavorable rating after a negative campaign is not bad for Mo Brooks. A lot can happen in 9 months, but right now Mo Brooks seems to be in the driver’s seat at the start of the campaign.”
Even though both Brooks and U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, have drawn strong primary challengers, it is extremely rare for Republican incumbents in Congress to lose their seats to GOP challengers. Over the last two election cycles, 98 percent of all incumbent Republican U.S. representatives have won their Primary re-election campaigns.
Strange had the lowest favorable rating of the three candidates, and he has a lot of ground to make up if he wants to catch Moore before the Sept. 26 runoff election. Strange has struggled throughout this race with the perception by Alabama voters that he entered into some sort of a shady or unethical deal with disgraced Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley to get the appointment in the first place. Strange has not addressed those concerns and has instead spent millions on negative ads attacking Brooks and Moore.
Wahl said, “If anything, I think the negative ads hurt Luther Strange in the 5th District. I just don’t see Mo Brooks voters coming over to vote for Strange after the attacks he ran on Congressman Brooks.”
The winner of the Sept. 26, Republican primary runoff will face Doug Jones in the Dec. 12, Special General election.
The Republican primary for U.S. House of Representative seats and numerous other offices will be June 5, 2018.